By no stretch of the imagination could I claim to know every last cake decorator on earth, or even in the US, but I can tell you with absolute certainty that they all have one thing in common: They are absolutely crazy. Especially those who specialize in wedding cakes, let me tell you. That job requires a heightened level of madness, a degree of which I still have yet to fully comprehend. I know this for sure because for however brief, I joined their ranks.
Still jet-lagged and bleary-eyed the day after returning from Paris, it was game time, and a trial cake had to be baked. Never before had I made a wedding cake, nor even a round cake bigger than 10 inches in diameter, and somehow it seemed sensible to have only one test cake. The madness had already begun to descend, you see. Lacking the time to make the whole assembly, it was really just for reassurance that the recipe would still work when baked in a 3-inch thick layer… But of course, lest I get too comfortable with the concept, even the smallest top tier ballooned like a soufflé and promptly fell like a bombed out mine field. Meanwhile, experiments with creating the perfect low-sugar frosting weren’t going any better, the whisk of my mixer dejectedly pushing around a thin, soupy icing that refused to gain any volume. What a fun situation to return home to.
But there wasn’t enough time in the day to fix all of the kinks (ie, everything), and exhaustion began to set in, so in favor of not ending up face-first in a vat of cake batter, all I could do was high-tail it off to bed. Never mind that the whole cake would need to be baked and crumb-coated tomorrow.
Simple enough, right? Take all day and bake a cake. But it’s no little birthday cake, no cute little two-layer affair. These monstrous rounds require somewhere around 70 total cups of batter, and the largest layers took nearly two hours to bake, each. Then, they must cool, and have you ever sat around waiting for a 14-inch round, 3-inch tall cake to cool? Absolute torture. At the very least, nothing had exploded in the oven, and I was making some progress. Did I mention that this cake would be due at noon the next day? Not that I was stressing over the deadline at all, no way.
Some how, some way, at the end of the longest day of my life, there actually was a wedding cake. A feat in itself, but it was even on time and exactly as ordered!
While I’m normally opposed to using non-edible items on a cake, I could hardly argue with the bride’s request for fresh flower decorations. Besides, it saved me the heartache of trying to pipe some crude squiggles that might have only looked like flowers if you closed your eyes. At that point, I was just happy to throw some roses and such on it and be done with the thing.
After that maddening experience, it’s clear that only a very unbalanced, somewhat delusional, and absolutely obsessive person would choose to make wedding cakes for a living. And of course, I say that with great admiration.